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Stories From… (Budapest)

“If you go from Paris to Budapest you think you are in Moscow.” -Gyorgy Ligeti

When I was a kid growing up in the USA, I never thought about the rest of the world. It’s a bit stereotypical American, I suppose. To not imagine the cultures which lie outside. America is just so huge. You can explore mountains and caves, deserts and plains, the Amish, a China Town in every metropolis. States with four glorious seasons and states with only two: hot and hotter (Florida, I’m talkin’ to you!)

So when I married an English bloke and we moved to the UK, the whole world opened up to me. Living in the UK is incredible because the rest of the world just seems so accessible. We can drive anywhere in Europe or take a cheap-ass flight out of London to visit a European city for a day or a weekend. It’s all accessible by plane, train or automobile. Since moving here, I’ve been to:

  • Norway
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • France
  • Scotland
  • Holland
  • Russia
  • Belgium
  • Tunisia
  • Kenya
  • Lebanon

And now I add Hungary.

The hubs and I got married again and took a week out in Budapest. We’d heard it was an interesting and cheap city and those reviews weren’t wrong! Like the quote at the top of this post suggests, it ain’t the most beautiful city. In fact, it’s quite ugly and bedraggled and full of lads on stag dos. But if you know how to escape all that, Budapest has some incredible experiences to offer. And if you want to add some class to your holiday, you can take a day trip to Vienna on the Eurostar or hire a car and be there within 3 hours.

Getting my camera out for non work related shooting feels like a luxury these days so I was kindof in Heaven on this vacay. That said, I still only got a couple of blog-worthy shots on this holiday and I present them to you below…

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I think Washington, DC and Atlanta Georgia are possibly the only other places I’ve seen as rampant homelessness as in Budapest. Oh, and Rome. The difference being that in Budapest, these souls are mostly just living. Sleeping on the streets, in the stations, in the parks. They’re not begging and no one bothers them. There seems to be no police presence and so they just lay there all day everyday, mostly invisible. The man in the photo above was in that station from early morning to late at night. At times he was joined by piles of others who just laid there in their own urine. My heart…oh, my heart. It’s hard to see. I don’t know how to help.

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That said, there was plenty of begging to be found, but mostly just from the Romani people (aka “gypsies”). This photo above is the only one I got before I was informed of the “no photos! no photos!” rule. I was thinking the lady could have made plenty of money by simply requiring money in exchange for her photo! We gave her money anyway.

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There were a couple particularly spectacular buildings we visited. This one above is the Dohany Street Synagogue. We didn’t have any idea how significant this place was when we first arrived. Below is the inside…

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This is the largest synagogue in Europe and second largest in the world, second only to New York City. This is on size but it’s the first largest if you’re measuring based on capacity. There was a particularly comical moment in which I was required to cover my shoulders with a giant paper towel because I’m a woman. Feminist that I am, this didn’t go down so well but I was more annoyed that I missed the opportunity to deliver the most perfectly timed punchline of my life. Which I will perform for you now… “But I have the right to bare arms!” *Nyuck nyuck*

Nevertheless, we were in awe of this super stunning place of worship which remained untouched throughout the Holocaust.

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The street art was pretty dope. Lots of graffiti and intentionally artistic building exteriors. But honestly, I’m most excited to talk to you about the FOOD!

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There were lots of great little places, none of which were remarkable in comparison to Comme Chez Soi. Ok, so here’s the story…when we told some friends we were following in their footsteps to have a romantic getaway in Budapest, they said we just had to eat here but to make the booking at least a month ahead. Comme Chez Soi is a tiny little mamma & pappa restaurant with about 8 tables. And the food is like…orgasmic. While we sat there, they turned away a constant stream of people who were practically begging. With multiple courses, wine (and wine and WINE!), champagne, dessert…the total bill came to like £65 which is in.SANE. I tell you…in the cheap season, an EasyJet flight is the cost of a one hour train to London (kid you not) and you can eat and come home the next morning. Put it on your bucket list. Can’t wait to get over there again.

So that’s about all, folks! The rest of the photos are just us clowning around. Ok here’s one purely because I was in heaven being able to bask in the sunshine with my skin out (shh don’t tell the synagogue)

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The Author & Artist

I'm Elizabeth, the photographer behind Gracie May Photography. I've been shooting since my first wedding in 2008 on a borrowed camera.

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